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How to unwrap a VERY HIGH-POLY ONLY model in Maya 2020? Help me please, I wanna die...

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Hi, everyone! I hope you are doing well! I have an issue with my graduation project. So I decided to model a mech that is very high detailed and complex, so I modeled each piece of it separately and just placed it as it is. I was learning the software and modeling fundamentals as I was doing the project. The topology is relatively good (mostly quads and sometimes tris) and I ended up with 2500+ pieces. Some are very complex, some of them are simple shapes. So my question is: how the hell do I texturize it???
Because Substance Painter won't handle that amount of polygons I guess.
I was planning on splitting the mech to it's main parts (arms, legs, upper body, lower body, etc.) and throw it into Substance Painter to texturize separately and then gather everything in one scene. But for that I need to unwrap it all.
And oh boy I do NOT want to sit one extra month unwrapping all the pieces by hand.

So my question is how would you approach to this problem?  Thank you for the answers in advance!

UPD: 
I don't have low-poly, because I thought I AM making it low-poly...

I can put some screenshots of the wireframe if needed and polycount is 40mill+ I think.

Doing this project from the scratch is not an option since I have a lot more to do (pilot for the mech, hangar, filling props, etc) and the deadline is 'till Feb 2021

Also I was planning to do close-up renders to show all the details I was working on, so the texture quality should be very good as well. 


Replies

  • icegodofhungary
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    icegodofhungary greentooth
    If this is for a film, I can't help you. If it's for a game, I would say bite the bullet and create the lowpoly. You're halfway there anyways. Reducing polygons and/or building a lowpoly isn't nearly as bad as you're making it out to be. Just make a copy of your highpoly version, and use the copy as a basis for creating the lowpoly. You don't have to model every single piece. So don't make a lowpoly bolt and a lowpoly panel line and a low poly tiny tube. Just bake all that down to a texture once you get your lowpoly mesh worked out. Look at the art for mech games like Titanfall.

    You could use a series of triplanar materials and masks to get something basic. But without a curvature map you're not going to get any edge wear details. It will look off. And even with LODs, you're pushing it with 40M polygons. I'm not a tech art guy, so I can't say for sure. But it seems like something that wouldn't work well in engine.
  • VagiVagi69
    If this is for a film, I can't help you. If it's for a game, I would say bite the bullet and create the lowpoly. You're halfway there anyways. Reducing polygons and/or building a lowpoly isn't nearly as bad as you're making it out to be. Just make a copy of your highpoly version, and use the copy as a basis for creating the lowpoly. You don't have to model every single piece. So don't make a lowpoly bolt and a lowpoly panel line and a low poly tiny tube. Just bake all that down to a texture once you get your lowpoly mesh worked out. Look at the art for mech games like Titanfall.

    You could use a series of triplanar materials and masks to get something basic. But without a curvature map you're not going to get any edge wear details. It will look off. And even with LODs, you're pushing it with 40M polygons. I'm not a tech art guy, so I can't say for sure. But it seems like something that wouldn't work well in engine.
    I could say that it was made more for a film quality since I was planning to just make a sequence with camera movement in Maya's Arnold, so no animation will be needed. I understand that no game-engine can handle this much polys in one model. I tried to automatically reduce polys with Maya's "reduce" option and it didn't get it properly. So are you suggesting retopologizing it by hand then?


    And yes, it was inspired by Titanfall btw ;)
  • icegodofhungary
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    icegodofhungary greentooth
    Yeah I would just try to build the lowpoly by hand around the highpoly, skip the tiny details, and just bake those down. It should be a good compromise be speed and quality. But I'm not up on film texturing techniques. I know you can do stuff like Mari where you paint directly on the model, so that might be something to look into first. And there's UDIMs but that still requires unwrapping all those parts unfortunately.
  • gvii
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    gvii polycounter lvl 8
    Even if it's for film you still need to do a lowpoly. You make UV's for that and add subdivisions as needed and use displacement instead of just normals and such. If you just want to render it, you can do vertex painting instead.
  • poopipe
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    poopipe hero character
    If you do some clever stuff with materials you'll get away without UVing it - if you are stuck for time look into using Arnold to generate curvature etc.  There'll be plenty to read up on

    But, next time...
    whether you're working on films or games you will be baking stuff - what you have there is not going to get through a rigging and animation pipeline without ruining plenty of people's day. 

  • Alex Javor
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    Alex Javor high dynamic range
    yeah i dont know much about the film pipeline, but i have been working with some character rigs for visual novel. At first I thought, fuck it there is no real restriction because of realtime renderer, I'll just go crazy with poly count and not worry. But when it comes to rigging and animation there is still good reason to stay as low as possible. It really sucks to weight paint and animate with a model that bogs system down. Too much waiting, it will drive you crazy.

    as far as retopo goes - the model is symmetrical so its not near as daunting as it might seem at first. Should only take one day if you are proficient with your tools. If not, well time to get proficient.

    couple things will help keep maya running smoothly during retopo: 

    - decimate a version of the highpoly to use for retopo
    - load as alembic cache
    - break into pieces to retopo individually (i.e., just the legs, just the torso) 
    - periodically split your quad draw mesh into separate objects (i've found this to make the biggest impact on performance)
    - dont retopo with symmetry turned on. just do half, unwrap UV's, and mirror. 
    - retopo by hand will be the fastest thing considering the entire pipeline. when you retopo by hand, you'll make topology that helps support easy unwrapping. You'll get to know your model on a UV shell by shell basis. This will gear your mind for texturing, making that all go smoother.

    also, consider design next time: may benefit both aesthetics and workflow to use some large, simpler pieces. big pieces of armor to cover thighs, chest, etc. 


  • VagiVagi69
    yeah i dont know much about the film pipeline, but i have been working with some character rigs for visual novel. At first I thought, fuck it there is no real restriction because of realtime renderer, I'll just go crazy with poly count and not worry. But when it comes to rigging and animation there is still good reason to stay as low as possible. It really sucks to weight paint and animate with a model that bogs system down. Too much waiting, it will drive you crazy.

    as far as retopo goes - the model is symmetrical so its not near as daunting as it might seem at first. Should only take one day if you are proficient with your tools. If not, well time to get proficient.


    Thank you for the advice. I already started to retopologize the model and I hope it will be low-poly enough to keep working with it as I have too much small geometry that really has to stand out so it cannot be replaced with normals. And yes, I've just realized that I just have to retopo half of the model bc of symmetry.
  • VagiVagi69
    poopipe said:
    If you do some clever stuff with materials you'll get away without UVing it - if you are stuck for time look into using Arnold to generate curvature etc.  There'll be plenty to read up on

    But, next time...
    whether you're working on films or games you will be baking stuff - what you have there is not going to get through a rigging and animation pipeline without ruining plenty of people's day. 

    I already understand that I can't get away from baking stuff. At first I thought that since I am not planning on rendering all this in real-time renderers/game engines, then I can go crazy with polycount and just model all the details. But as I was learning more and more about 3D workflow I realized that I f*cked up and I needed to do low poly first, but it was too late as 70% of the whole Mech was modelled. I started retopologizing it and am still planning to split the model into main pieces and paint as I mentioned in the topic and then gather everything together and pose it via parenting or simple rigging.I also have a question: If I apply textures (preserving more or less correct UVs) to the model and then switch to Smooth Preview in Maya will they be distorted or not?

    Also thank you very much for the answer!
  • oglu
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    oglu ngon master
    Could you show us some wireframes? I do net see a problem with a 40mil polymesh for rendering. 
  • Eric Chadwick
    You should carefully examine your scope, and prune away, reduce. Don't try to do a whole Pacific Rim hangar.

    Focus on a small scope, just the head for example. Finish just that, to completion, to learn the process.

    Then apply your learnings to the rest of the mech, if there's time. You'll be redoing things a few times, as you learn what works and what doesn't.

    Get really good at making one thing well, rather than making a whole lot of halfway.
  • VagiVagi69
    You should carefully examine your scope, and prune away, reduce. Don't try to do a whole Pacific Rim hangar.

    Focus on a small scope, just the head for example. Finish just that, to completion, to learn the process.

    Then apply your learnings to the rest of the mech, if there's time. You'll be redoing things a few times, as you learn what works and what doesn't.

    Get really good at making one thing well, rather than making a whole lot of halfway.
    I know, but head only would not be accepted as a graduation project so I was told to model, texturize and render the whole scene. I want to mention that I'm doing 3D modeling for almost a year now and this is my second project so far. Before that I modelled Millenium Falcon with very bad topology and no textures at all, but it went pretty well as for someone who didn't know the software and modeling principles at all :)
    Also I was learning software, basics and fundamentals while working on this mech. I just want to finish this as soon as possible and star working on my own project to learn proper workflow, techniques and, most importantly, fundamentals.  
  • VagiVagi69
    oglu said:
    Could you show us some wireframes? I do net see a problem with a 40mil polymesh for rendering. 


    Some screenshots of the wireframe. Don't mind the design. I've got some feedback on it and I know it's pretty bad. I am currently fixing the topology getting rid of some non-required edges piece by piece

    UPD:

    Topology is 90% quads, 10% tris. No n-gons. Some pieces have supporting edges, some are beveled (bc I've learned the tool during the process)   \( "_ )/
  • oglu
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    oglu ngon master
    I would say thats fine for rendering. Just make UVs. Its not uncommon todo 5 days UVs for such complex model. 
    Polyshell per polyshell. One by one. Dont give up.

    We do basic uvs during the modeling. Just simple cuts + unfold.

    If you would use this model with displacement you would need even more poly on some objects. 
  • VagiVagi69
    oglu said:
    I would say thats fine for rendering. Just make UVs. Its not uncommon todo 5 days UVs for such complex model. 
    Polyshell per polyshell. One by one. Dont give up.

    We do basic uvs during the modeling. Just simple cuts + unfold.

    If you would use this model with displacement you would need even more poly on some objects.


    Thank you, I will try to make UVs as good as possible because I never really unwrapped any model yet. About the displacement... Is it really needed with this much detailed already implemented into geometry? Or you suggest i.e. making some seams between the panels, skrews, bolts, etc? 
  • oglu
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    oglu ngon master
    I thought more in the dericton of big scatches. Surface Detail displacement. 
  • VagiVagi69
    oglu said:
    I thought more in the dericton of big scatches. Surface Detail displacement. 
    Okay I will try. Thank you again for your advices! 
  • sprunghunt
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    sprunghunt greentooth
    you could probably just use procedural textures for a lot of the surfaces on this. Despite what other people have said when you're going to a offline renderer you don't need to bake things. 

    You can use materials that have box projections for textures and then use an edge-detection node to blend it with other materials. This is dependent on what renderer you're using. 

    Here's a tutorial for arnold that shows the technique I'm talking about:

  • oglu
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    oglu ngon master
    And how does this work if you animate the robot? 
  • gnoop
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    gnoop greentooth
    Never dealt with such a hi poly manual unwrapping myself.   It had always been Zbrush auto unwrap   or just vertex paint + edge detecting shader  to be baked then into low poly shell.

    Still I wonder isn't Ptex texturing  had been invented for exactly this issue.     Is Ptex dead  now?  Haven't heard any fuss  about it for  a while.
  • oglu
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    oglu ngon master
    Ptex does work only good with low polycount objects optimized for subD. Its made for Disney Style.
    Making UVS for complex stuff is just part of the game if you work for Film.
    This robot here will need some UDIMs to get a decent pixel density. But first you have to create clean unfolded UVs.
  • oglu
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    oglu ngon master
    VagiVagi69 if you need help you could upload the upper leg here and i could show how to unwrap it.
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